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While the feeling of stately grandeur evoked by Jackson’s historic courthouse has remained over the years, many of the original features of the building have not. Little by little, the courthouse architects, McMillan Smith and Partners out of South Carolina,…
Jesse Webster consulted his GPS and eyed the tangle of rhododendrons stretching out of sight up the mountainside. Somewhere beyond the gnarled thicket lay a massive grove of old-growth hemlocks — at least that’s what aerial photos suggested. It was…
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 17:00

Swain jail escapees returned to NC

A murder suspect and the guard who allegedly helped him escape from the Swain County jail have been returned to North Carolina. Former jailer Anita Vestal arrived at the Macon County Detention Center Monday (May 18), said Macon County Sheriff…
Though the Swain County government hasn’t escaped the recession completely, the blow dealt by the economy has been softer there than in other places. While other local governments are contemplating tax increases, Swain County commissioners are looking to lower the…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:52

Remembering Popcorn

To tell you the truth, when I read that some woman claiming to be Popcorn Sutton’s daughter was publishing a book about her legendary father, I was openly skeptical. Following Popcorn’s suicide on March 16, 2009, I surfed thorough a…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:52

The new frugality is an old idea

There’s talk all over about America’s newfound love affair with frugality. What Time magazine has dubbed the Great Recession is threatening the American consumer culture, pundits and writers say, forcing us to re-think whether we need the biggest plasma screen…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:50

A two-horse town

A rift that splintered the town’s longtime farmers market in downtown Waynesville into two opposing groups of vendors continues to persist this season, resulting in two separate markets that will operate just half a mile apart. “They’re going to have…
When Steve Woody and Barney Coulter got a mysterious call from Smokies Superintendent Randall Pope in the early 1990s asking to see them in his office, they dutifully, albeit curiously, complied. Neither were used to taking orders — Coulter as…
It’s slim pickin’s out there, as Western Carolina University students are finding out. This past weekend, more than 1,100 graduates walked across the stage and into the most unforgiving job market in decades. The competition is stiff. Fewer companies are…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:47

Ghost Town seeks ride inspections

A team of state inspectors will arrive at Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park on Monday, May 18, in hopes of getting the rides and chairlift certified for the anticipated opening day of May 22. Ghost Town barely made…
Susan Livengood of Fines Creek has been awarded a 2009 Regional Artist Project Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. Livengood, whose paintings are represented by Art on Depot in Waynesville, used the money to do a three-dimensional installation, loosely…
For nearly a decade, a group of Jackson County residents have envisioned a greenway that would meander for miles from one end of the county to the other. Now, the Greenway Committee is finally ready to turn this lofty goal…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:43

Local farmers markets

Haywood Waynesville Tailgate Market 8 a.m. to noon Wednesdays and Saturdays at American Legion parking lot near downtown Waynesville. Haywood County grown vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, honey and nursery stock. Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:41

Erosion laws put to the test

Haywood County’s sediment and erosion control policies are the subject of a bitter legal battle poised to set statewide precedent. A landowner slapped with a $175,000 fine by the county is fighting back with a lawsuit claiming he is being…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:40

Do you have a gardening question?

By Jim Janke The purpose of Master Gardener programs is to increase the knowledge of horticulture among home gardeners. Master Gardener Volunteers are trained to answer questions about lawns, fruits, vegetables, trees and ornamental plants. Their efforts in getting information…
A potential clash between downtown Franklin merchants and street vendors was headed off the pass this week. For years, street vendors have been peddling food and sodas to the large crowds converging downtown every Saturday for the popular Pickin’ on…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:34

Swain jail keys found in get-away truck

The Swain County Sheriff’s Department got a welcome piece of news recently when it learned the escape of an inmate won’t cost as much as previously thought. Jailer Anita Vestal and accused murder suspect Jeffrey Miles were picked up in…
It looks like the Department of Social Services in Haywood County won’t be getting a new home after all. Haywood County commissioners decided against purchasing the old Wal-Mart building, which would have housed DSS as well as the health department,…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:32

The Naturalist's Corner

What’s that buzzin? “Daddy, daddy, there’s a yellowjacket in the bedroom!” cried Izzy. And somehow, the dusty old synapses fired and I replied, “It’s not a yellow jacket, it’s a fly.” Now, I guess I could have been premature —…
The burst of the nation’s housing bubble has caused real estate markets to tank — everywhere, it seems, but in Swain County. Property values there have increased 30 percent over the past four years, according to the county’s latest property…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:30

The story of the fiddlehead

Fiddleheads are emerging from the leaf litter in our forests. Almost everyone, even those not especially interested in plants, has heard of fiddleheads and knows that they’re supposedly edible. Whenever I teach a plant identification workshop for the Smoky Mountain…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:26

A haven of nectar and beauty

The irises my wife, Elizabeth, cultivates in our yard are coming into full bloom as I write this. Their shapes and colors and fragrances are almost too intricate to describe. The name iris, meaning rainbow, was given to the group…
Innovative techniques for dispersing runoff and protecting neighboring streams will be highlighted during a program at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 11, at Bethel Elementary School. The grounds of Bethel Elementary School incorporate many environmental features that protect water quality. Haywood…
With massive logging operations running full tilt in the Smokies in the 1920s, the sanctity of what once seemed like a vast and untouchable forest was being rapidly reduced to a desert of stumps. While most locals welcomed the money…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:23

Carden’s views on Kephart have softened

As a struggling albeit brilliant writer, Gary Carden never turns down money. So when an out-of-town man in a rental car appeared on Carden’s front porch offering a $1,000 down payment on the spot to write a play about Horace…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:19

Finding distinction in literature

The Genius by Jesse Kellerman. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008. 384 pages Sixty years ago, Graham Greene, one of the great English writers of the 20th century, differentiated his novels from what he regarded as his lesser works by calling the…
While George and Elizabeth Ellison are fixtures in Bryson City today — Elizabeth as a renowned artist and George as a writer and naturalist — their journey to the region 30 years ago was little more than happenstance. The Ellisons…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:17

Miss California takes on gay marriage

I cannot remember the last time I watched a minute of a beauty pageant. I never had much of an interest in the first place, even when watching them with my family as a kid. The contestants were sparkly and…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:16

You, too, can bike to work

Whether it’s for fitness, for fun or to save the planet, there’s plenty of reasons to bike to work. There’s also plenty of excuses not to. This week, The Smoky Mountain News sought out two people who make biking to…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:14

Gate goes up, Gorge community blocked out

By Julia Merchant • Staff writer One day last October, Bud Dills, a longtime Nantahala Gorge resident, headed down to his favorite fishing spot. The area, located where the Nantahala River empties into Fontana Lake just past Wesser Falls, had…
Ghost Town in the Sky owners paid themselves nearly $25,000 over two weeks in March despite the company being in bankruptcy. The Maggie Valley amusement park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-March with the aim of reorganizing, opening the…
An attorney for Duke Energy gave Jackson County commissioners a “friendly reminder” this week to stop dragging their feet on turning over permits that will pave the way for the demolition of the Dillsboro Dam. Before Duke can tear down…
“When I first came into the Smokies the whole region was one of superb primeval forest. My sylvan studio spread over mountain after mountain, seemingly without end, and it was always clean and fragrant, always vital, growing new shapes of…
A fix for impending traffic congestion on N.C. 107 in Sylva doesn’t lie solely with a new bypass but will require a redesign of the commercial artery itself, according to the latest traffic projections by the Department of Transportation. Two…
Jackson County leaders have finished the first draft of a planning ordinance they hope will transform the U.S. 441 corridor in Whittier from a mish mash of billboards and unregulated growth into a model of tidy landscaping and mountain-themed architecture.…
Walk among the rows and rows of hydroponic butter leaf lettuce growing in William Shelton’s greenhouse, and you’ll notice a distinctive dark green patch that seems out of place. While the butter leaf is destined to be neatly packed in…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:03

Library bids come in well under budget

The bad economy has finally reaped some dividends for Jackson County taxpayers. Construction of the new Jackson County library and renovations to the historic courthouse will cost the county roughly $1.5 million less than expected. Bids from construction companies came…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:03

The Naturalist's Corner

A decade of Birding for the Arts This past Saturday morning (May 2) more than 20 arts patrons and bird fanciers gathered at 8 a.m. under ominous skies at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre for the 10th annual (time sure…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:15

Ghost Town and alderman at loggerheads

Ghost Town CEO Steve Shiver threatened to sue Maggie Valley Alderman Colin Edwards during a town meeting this week. Edwards attempted to speak out against Shiver’s request for a $200,000 loan from the town. But Shiver objected and refused to…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:14

Celebrating 75 years

More than 200 state and local dignitaries gathered for a ceremony atop Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week. The event kicked off the celebration of the park’s 75th anniversary, bringing together communities from North Carolina…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:13

Smokies prepare for bat-decimating disease

In response to a growing concern about a new malady that has killed an estimated 400,000 bats north of here and may be headed this way, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has closed all of its caves to public…
George Ellison never knows when a Horace Kephart pilgrim will come calling. But invariably, they will come — creaking up the wooden stairs that have smooth depressions worn into the treads from years of use — to Ellison’s second floor…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:10

New program aims to bring abusers to justice

Victims of domestic violence in Western North Carolina recently received a powerful new voice to help bring them justice. A $400,000 grant awarded to the 30th Judicial Alliance, a group that works on behalf of the justice system in seven…
Maggie Valley has a year-round of population of only 607, and its main drag contains dozens of 1960s-era mom and pop hotels, a Wild West theme park, and shops selling fudge and moonshine jelly. All these business, however, share space…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:08

HRMC board chair steps down

The board of Haywood Regional Medical Center bid farewell to chairman Glenn White April 24. White had served on the hospital board nine years and became chairman in March 2008 following the resignation of then-chairman Dr. Nancy Freeman. White called…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:07

The Naturalist's Corner

Hats off to Avram and the activist spirit Avram Friedman, executive director of the Canary Coalition, is not afraid to put his money (whatever fine he may have to pay for trespassing) and time (eight hours in Mecklenburg County jail)…
What’s a college without a college town? It’s an almost unimaginable scenario to those who love the unique, quirky places that grow up around major universities. But it’s very much the reality when it comes to Western Carolina University and…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:04

A chat with Carolinas Healthcare president

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer The Smoky Mountain News caught up with Carolinas Healthcare System Chief Operating Officer and President Joe Piemont this week. The hospital system — the largest in the Carolinas and the third largest public non-profit…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:00

All things wild and wonderful

By Karen Dill It is in April that the wild things emerge. Bears crawl from their dens; baby wolves are born while their parents howl at the moon; and mysteriously tender green shoots climb bravely from the ground. To an…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:00

When to celebrate

Depending on how you slice it, the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park could be celebrated on a variety of days. The park has deemed the official anniversary date to be June 15, 2009, exactly 75 years…